Psychotropic Medications in Child Welfare: From Federal Mandate to Direct Care.
Barnett, Erin R. Butcher, Rebecca L. Neubacher, Katrin. Jankowski, Mary K. Daviss, William B. Carluzzo, Kathleen L. Ungarelli, Erica G. Yackley, Cathleen R.
Published: July 2016
Children and Youth Services Review
Vol. 66 , p. 9-17
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Background and objectiveChildren in the welfare system are prone to uncoordinated and unmonitored mental health care, including psychotropic medications. To address these issues, federal legislation mandated that state child welfare agencies improve the coordination and oversight of psychotropic medications. However, there is no clear guidance on how to improve these practices, particularly at the level of direct care. We aimed to identify specific areas for improvement through state-wide surveys of four groups.MethodsWe surveyed all known members of four groups working directly with children in foster care in one small northeastern state. Respondents included 209 foster and adoptive parents, 169 child welfare staff, 84 mental health therapists, and 33 clinical prescribers. Survey items addressed practices and perceptions related to sharing of information and cross-system communication and monitoring of medication effects and side effects.ResultsNearly two in five foster and adoptive parents reported not regularly receiving information about the purpose or side effects of psychotropic medications, and they disagreed among themselves on who was primarily responsible for monitoring safety and effectiveness. One-third of child welfare staff and two-thirds of mental health therapists reported that information about psychotropic medications is not regularly shared with the child's provider team. Half of clinical prescribers reported not regularly communicating with child welfare staff.ConclusionsWe identified specific areas for improvement related to communication, sharing of information, monitoring, and role clarification. Strategies to improving these activities are key to ensuring the safe and effective use of psychotropic medications in this population. (Author abstract)
drug therapy; Psychotropic medication; foster children; adopted children; mental health services; child welfare reform; parent education